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Public Employee Press

Union honors Kings Legacy

By ALFREDO ALVARADO



"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." — The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.




Retiree and phone bank volunteer Elizabeth Miles was part of the union's
MLK celebration.

DC 37 celebrated the legacy of civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 9 at the annual candle-lit memorial celebration organized by the union's Political Action Committee.

The keynote speaker for the evening was newly elected City Council member Daneek Miller, who was introduced by Committee Chair and Local 1359 President Dennis Ifill.

Miller, whose mother was a member of DC 37, represents southeast Queens. He has years of union experience and served as president of Amalgamated Transportation Union Local 1056 before winning his City Council election in 2013 with the backing of District Council 37.

Miller talked about the strong bonds between labor and the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

"That is part of Dr. King's legacy that we have to keep alive, that synergy between the union movement and the civil rights movement," said Miller. "Those coalitions make us strong."

Unions were indeed a critical part of the movement that King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference played a central role in. He supported the sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., after two workers were killed on the job. The workers were members of Local 1733 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, DC 37's parent union.

King made two trips to Memphis to help the strikers. On the first, he spoke at a rally that drew 17,000 supporters. During his brief life, King was jailed 20 times, stabbed once, and had his home bombed with his family inside. He returned to Memphis for another rally on April 3, 1968, the night he gave his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech to a packed church. The next day, the great leader was killed by a sniper's bullet as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel.

The ceremony concluded with the traditional candle lighting as participants sang the anthem of the civil rights movement, "We Shall Overcome."

"The King legacy is a great legacy," said Ifill. "And we are proud to be able to keep that legacy alive here at DC 37."


Daneek Miller
Newly elected City Council member


"That is part of Dr. King's legacy that we have to keep alive, that synergy between the union movement and the civil rights movement."


Dennis Ifill
PAC Chair and Local 1359 President



 
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